MRAID - the Language of Love in the App Environment

In-app video monetization has taken flight, with engaged US viewers spending 88% of their time on mobile consuming in-app content (according to ComScore 2014). Advertisers know where to reach their audiences when they’re engaged, but they aren’t managing to do it quite right just yet. The inconsistency in publisher video players and the large amount of Flash still being used means not all content is being monetized and many ad impressions are being wasted. The biggest culprit inhibiting mobile video advertising is the Flash monster.  

Flash based content often breaks, it doesn’t scale across platforms, often requires updates and numerous plug-ins; the list of issues goes on.  It’s a wonder mobile manufacturers and media owners like Apple haven’t moved to pure HTML5 based devices sooner. So for an industry that can’t wait, what can be done now?

                                        

HTML5 is a standard code that talks to multiple browsers and devices without causing inconsistencies and this has a huge impact on mobile advertising. The IAB has recognised the need for a universal language that allows video content within an app environment to be monetized using basic HTML5 and JavaScript code. They have defined a ‘language’ that advertisers and media companies can use to speak to each other, to get the best out of their campaigns, reduce strain on developers and increase revenues. That language is MRAID.

The function of MRAID

MRAID stands for the ‘Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions’ and essentially it creates a simple bridge between the disparate coding of the app world and the ad market using HTML and JavaScript. It allows the two environments to converge with a one-size fits all approach to in-app banner, display and interstitial advertising. Media companies will invariably have different SDKs for their apps which makes things difficult for advertisers because each SDK will require different specifications from the ad tag to enable a variety of advertising formats. MRAID acts as a standard API for all apps that allows in-stream advertiser/brand creative to translate across any browser and any mobile device. This IAB backed standard replaces the Open Rich Media Mobile Advertising initiative that was known as ORMMA.

How does it work?

MRAID sits between the app and the ad and creates a container that loads an ad within a web-view in the publisher app so the user stays within that environment. The IAB standard size of that ad is 320x50 pixels but the ad can tell the container if it wants to do something, such as expand or close. It then creates another view that links to whatever page it’s been asked to point to.

MRAID is a standard engendered by the IAB to make it easier for the industry to communicate to mobile. For developers it takes the guesswork out of matching ad specs and inventory capabilities because it’s as simple as writing a bit of JavaScript - instead of having write complex instructions into code. It means more ads will be served because there is an understanding between both sides meaning a reduction in errors. When information is clear, as it is using MRAID, ads are displayed correctly in-stream, rather than being passed back.

Image from the IAB MRAID Video Addendum

How are Coull using MRAID?

Coull uses MRAID in our SDK to serve our in-video overlay and interstitial ad formats. We’ll soon be able to serve even more ad formats within the app environment because the MRAID container will be able to use VPAID ad tags to load a video within the publisher’s app. This will enable MRAID to control the ad and display it as either a pre-roll, interstitial or post-roll video within the app’s video content stream. The IAB are currently working on this important update that will have a massive impact on mobile video ad revenues.

When combined with validated and enriched inventory, MRAID gives our demand partners more confidence in the mobile market and media companies are able to make the most of their entire inventory.

What problem does MRAID solve for media companies?

  • Media Companies with mobile video content can integrate rich media ad formats without having to worry about how it’s displayed.

  • In some cases MRAID can communicate with device functions and complete an action on behalf of the user, such as ad information to a user’s calendar, adding value.

  • The clincher is that media companies can earn more revenue from their apps without having to invest in additional development time, and without the risk it may fail.

  • MRAID compliance increases the value of inventory because advertisers will pay more it.

What problem does MRAID solve for brands and advertisers?

  • MRAID takes pressure off of the ad developer, saving valuable time and improving ad delivery success.

  • Makes buying inventory programmatically more efficient and gives brands more confidence in their purchase decisions.

  • Advertisers can purchase with ease across platforms, reaching audiences at scale.

  • The only requirement for MRAID is that the SDK the application chooses, should be MRAID compliant and recognise the API calls from within the ad code. These come from the publisher or sometimes the IAB, so working with compliant media companies increases the success of the ad campaign.

MRAID solves a host of problems for vendors, publishers and advertisers and makes the programmatic trading of in-app inventory better for all parties, including the user who can now experience higher quality, more personal advertisements, at the right time in their engagement.

The IAB have made addendums to the MRAID API including MRAID 1.0 and MRAID 2.0 and will continue to do so to improve its functionality. The responsibility is on media companies, advertisers and technology vendors to ensure they are up to date with MRAID specifications, and the onus is on mobile device manufactures to move away from a flash first environment now, and emerge into the mobile first content world.